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Judiciary to blame for prisons congestion, correctional service alleges

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Nigeria Prison

Reacting to reports of surge in global prisons population by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, (UNODC), the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) has blamed the justice delivery system in the country for overcrowding in most prisons.

Public Relations Officer of NCoS, Francis Enobore, said overcrowding in custodial centres has been around for some time but the Service is making efforts within its means to ensure decongestion.

In a phone interview with The Guardian, Enobore said: “We are trying our best to tackle the issue from different angles but you need to understand that the prisoners that are brought to us for admission into correctional centres and the length of time they stay with us is not determined by the Service but by the justice system. The judiciary plays a role because that is where the cases are processed.

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“I may not be able to tell you exactly what the challenges are with arresting agencies or what the challenges are with the judiciary, however as it affects us, we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCoS, even though most of our centres are congested and it has been a big challenge to us.”

Enobore noted that the agency has the responsibility to keep inmates in humane conditions as much as possible, even as it follows up with processes of rehabilitation and preparations for life after incarceration.

He nevertheless commended the Federal Government for its support to the Service “because that has enabled us to produce inmates in court. Between 2015 and 2020, the Service has been able to increase our operational vehicles to 388, which has enhanced the transportation of inmates to the courts.”

He added: “In addition to that, we have to embark on rehabilitation of our facilities across the country. President, Muhammadu Buhari was gracious enough to approve the construction of 3,000 capacity custodial centres in the six geopolitical zones. This will go a long way in decongesting the centres.”

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